Marquette Greek life taking strides to build better connections within community, defy stereotypes

Alpha+Xi+Delta+is+one+of+Greek+life+home+on+campus.

Photo by Josh Meitz

Alpha Xi Delta is one of Greek life home on campus.

When Andrea Contreras started her college career at Marquette University, she was sure of one thing: she wouldn’t join a sorority.

Now just four years later, the senior in the College of Arts & Sciences is the president of Marquette University’s Panhellenic Association — the governing body for the university’s social sororities — and is working to change the way students see Greek life on campus.

“I went from not being interested in the organization to running it which has been a very interesting experience,” Contreras said. During her first year, Contreras signed up for sorority recruitment with her then-roommate who didn’t want to go through the process alone.

With the experience of living in the Kappa Delta sisterhood, Contreras and Nick Orihuela, president of the Interfraternity Council and member of Delta Chi fraternity, are looking to build stronger ties between Greek life on campus, the Marquette community and the city of Milwaukee as a whole.

“We’re trying to change the culture and perception of Greek life specifically at Marquette to be more positive for when (first years) come onto campus (so when) they see us they’re just not thinking of those stereotypes,” Orihuela, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said.

“I think for the most part people just watch movies and see party animals and ditzy women who don’t have any ambitions, which couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Contreras said. “What people don’t really see is all the work that we do… we’re not only focusing on our social events but prioritizing academics and raising our GPAs.”

Orihuela said that the stereotypes that most people think of when it comes to Greek life are not the true reality of the experiences that members of fraternities and sororities at Marquette have.

“You get more of the Marquette culture incorporated,” Orihuela said. “At state schools it’s like Greek life versus the school; versus here it’s like Greek life is a part of the school, and we are here to help enhance the community.”

Alicia Anderson, a junior in the College of Health Sciences and a member of Alpha Omega Epsilon, said that she has met some of her closest friends through recruitment and joining Greek life.

“I love having a support system of like-minded women on campus,” Anderson said in an email. “(My sorority) has provided me with opportunities to get more involved in community service and as stereotypical as it sounds, it has helped me find my place at Marquette.”

And that community starts on campus. This semester, Orihuela and Contreras are most excited for the sororities and fraternities at Marquette to host an event called Airband in which Greek chapters from across campus get together for a sort of dance marathon. The proceeds raised through the event will benefit Milwaukee Public Schools

“We’re looking forward to having a more impactful stance on that kind of stuff in terms of not just holding these events on campus and then donating the money… but also being more engaged [and] actually going out to meeting the people that we are helping,” Contreras said.

Both presidents also hope that a new partnership between Greek life and Marquette Athletics will encourage more student engagement with those in fraternities and sororities. By attending sporting events like men’s and women’s basketball games, Contreras said they want to promote the culture of their organization and build stronger bonds with Marquette students.

“Being about able to support Marquette’s women’s sports teams is really impactful for us because that is what we’re about — empowering other women,” Contreras said.

Overall, Orihuela and Contreras both agree that a large aspect of Greek life is the connections made and the personal growth that takes place.

“You get to see a lot of different perspectives of things that you never would have learned before,” Orihuela said.

This article was written by Kim Cook. She can be reached at kimberly.cook@marquette.edu.